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March Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: (1) Florida vs. (4) UCLA

Previewing Thursday’s Sweet 16 match up between Florida and UCLA. Vote on who you think will win!

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Florida Gators
After a victorious, yet disappointing effort in the Round of 64 against Albany the Gators needed to make a statement. They did so in their dispatching of the 61-45 dispatching of the Pittsburgh Panthers, who had all sorts of trouble against their Gators’ pressure defense. Quality looks were far and few in between for the Panthers. Big man Talib Zanna was the only one to really get anything going, but even he was limited to just 10 points and six rebounds. Overall, the Panthers walked away with 19 made field goals while missing 13 of 17 from beyond the arc and half of their six free throws. When the Gators defend like that, there may not be a team in this tournament that can defeat them. Offensively it was not their best showing collectively, but they did get a really strong individual performance from Scottie Wilbekin. He came through with 21, 13 of which came during a crucial second half stretch. In the Sweet 16 against UCLA they could need one of their better offensive performances of the season. The Bruins have only scored under 70 points once since January 23. If the Gators’ guards can use their speed and quickness to give the much larger Kyle Anderson trouble orchestrating the offense, a spot in the Elite Eight will be waiting for them. If he’s overpowering and making things happen over the top of them, the Bruins stand a chance to eliminate the tournament’s number one overall seed.

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UCLA Bruins
The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks came into the Round of 32 with a lot of confidence after knocking off VCU in their opening round contest in come-from-behind fashion. After being able to run their offense and get into their sets against the Rams’ havoc defense, they believed they could do so against anyone. However, it didn’t take them long to realize how much different life was against the Pac-12 tournament champions. The Bruins held them to 35 percent shooting from the field, 25 percent from deep and continuously got quality looks against their defense en route to a 77-60 victory. The Bruins only turned it over three times while having 22 of their 29 field goals assisted. That kind of offensive efficiency is going to be key against one of the nation’s premiere defensive teams in the Sweet 16. The Gators are going to really get up on the Bruins and test their ball handlers, particularly Kyle Anderson. The Bruins have to try and use that aggressiveness against them and get to the free throw line frequently, which they did against the Lumberjacks. They made 23 trips to the charity stripe, but only connected at 65 percent clip. They’ll have to take better advantage of their opportunities against the Gators, should they earn them.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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